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Executive Education

Yordanka Kostova Postbank
Yordanka Kostova Postbank

Postbank and INSEAD: Partnering Together to Equip Future-Ready Leaders

Yordanka Kostova

Director of Talent Management and Employer Branding at Postbank

To develop our desired work culture, we are investing a lot in our leaders, to help them develop skills that can increase the emotional stability of their team members. We stress the importance of building connections, using empathy, trust and communication.

For the past two years, Postbank Bulgaria has been partnering closely with INSEAD to equip its people and leaders with the necessary skillsets for leading the bank forward in its mission to provide innovative solutions for tomorrow.

Director of Talent Management and Employer Branding at Postbank, Yordanka Kostova, shares about how her team’s work in talent management contributes to the greater vision of the company, and how INSEAD has played an important part in the process.


Can you share more about what you do at Postbank?

As the Director of Talent Management and Employer Branding, I lead a team whose work covers the entire lifecycle of our employees from recruitment to talent development. We also take care of the image of the bank and its reputation as a preferred employer both internally and externally. 

Our team is also involved in leading key HR strategic projects, such as digitalisation of the HR process, as well as performance management for the entire company.

In summary, our goal is to constantly enhance the key areas of talent acquisition through employee recruitment, retention, engagement and development as well as to maintain a supportive and trustful working environment, resulting in motivated and committed employees.


Can you share how Postbank’s HR strategies are contributing towards the bank’s overall business objectives?

A key focus of our HR strategy is on improving employee experience. To ensure that our bank is able to continue growing in the right direction and pace, we need to ensure that our employees feel comfortable, have the right skillsets and are prepared for the dynamically changing environment. They also need to feel recognised and engaged.

The first part of our strategy involves using data analytics. We gather feedback from our employees for each stage of their journey to understand which are the key moments that matter to them. This insight helps us to come up with initiatives to lower their stress levels, achieve better work-life balance, and ensure they receive the training required to perform their tasks optimally.

We then look at how we can improve and automate work processes so that our employees can save time on routine tasks and put their focus on more meaningful projects, including CSR and ESG-related initiatives. Such engagements help them to feel like they are part of one big Postbank family and improve trust and communication within the various teams.

Finally, in line with our company’s reputation for being a first-mover in digitalisation and innovation, we have begun investing in gamification to better engage with our employees. Especially for our new generation of employees, gamification helps them to learn better and retain knowledge for a longer period. So, we have started to use gamification in recruitment, onboarding and training.


What is Postbank’s desired work culture and what is being done to achieve it?

We want our employees to be emotionally connected to their teams rather than on their tasks, because tasks are constantly changing. If a person is overly connected to their project, and the project changes, it can be very risky in terms of employee stability.

To develop our desired work culture, we are investing a lot in our leaders, to help them develop skills that can increase the emotional stability of their team members. We stress the importance of building connections, using empathy, trust and communication.

We are also starting to take a more personalised approach in dealing with our employees.  Our focus is on providing individual feedback to each member of our team. By looking at each employee individually, we are able to better understand what they are feeling, motivate them and help them reach their career goals.


Why did Postbank decide to partner with INSEAD?

In our search for a university partner to work with us in developing our learning and development programmes, we had several criteria in mind. We wanted an institution that was agile, and that would be able to work with us to customise a programme based on our specific needs and strategy.

At the same time, we also wanted the learning institute to be one that was globally recognised. After narrowing down our choices to two top universities, we decided to go with INSEAD because they were really responsive to our needs and made us feel that they were committed to working with us to build the best-possible development initiatives for our people.

We were also impressed by INSEAD’s commitment to constantly upgrade themselves to keep up with the market. They knew what topics were important for this year, while also maintaining a longer-term, more strategic view.


Can you share more about the employee development programme that has been developed with INSEAD?

We have worked with INSEAD to provide Postbank’s employees access to a range of relevant programmes that cover topics such as leading digital transformation and innovation, artificial intelligence, strategic management in banking, marketing, negotiation skills and leadership.

These courses are available to everyone from our senior management and C-level executives down to the rest of the company.

For our senior leaders, a key benefit of the programme is that they can take dedicated time off from work to really focus on learning and development physically at the INSEAD campus, and not be distracted by emails and other day-to-day tasks.

For the rest of our employees, they are also able to apply for the programme through a pre-selection process here at Postbank. We ask them to write an essay to share why they think the bank should invest in them. This helps us to ensure that the people we send are truly motivated to develop themselves.

Currently, as per our plan, we have a mix of about 50 per cent of our senior management, and 50 per cent of the rest of our employees participating in the programme.


How has the partnership experience with INSEAD been like so far?

It has been amazing. INSEAD has been very quick to answer all our queries, and they are very supportive every time we share with them our concerns. They are always ready to help us navigate through any issues that we may face. 

This partnership feels like we are all part of one organisation. This is important because there are times when we really need direction or advice on how to proceed in certain situations. We know we can always count on INSEAD to be there for us with friendly answers.


What are some of the feedback that you have received from previous participants of the programme?

Apart from really enjoying the dedicated learning time, they are also very impressed by the quality of the round table discussions in class, as well as the different projects and games that are being used to engage them in learning. They have also found the case studies to be very well-selected and relevant for all types of businesses. 

In terms of the professors, feedback has been that they are very well prepared and provocative in a good way, as participants are urged to step out and think beyond their comfort zone.


What are some ways that the programme has helped participants to perform better in their day-to-day tasks?

One of our leaders who underwent the Leading Digital Transformation programme shared about how relevant the course content was, and how he was able to start applying what he had learnt from the first day he was back at work.

Another example is how our Head of Loan Administration was able to take what he had learnt through a programme on AI to start new AI-based projects. Not only did the programme give him a chance to upgrade himself, but it also allowed him to start developing new perspectives on old tasks.


You completed the Leading Digital Transformation and Innovation programme at INSEAD’s Singapore campus last year. What was the experience like for you?

I felt really motivated after completing the programme. It has given me a new focus towards my tasks of implementing digitalisation and automating our work processes.

Something that struck me from the programme was the importance of emotional depth. This was something that my professor kept emphasising upon. So, now when I think about the implementation of new initiatives at the workplace, I am also careful to consider how it doesn’t negatively impact the team members involved. 

Executing the actual tasks may be quite straightforward, but it becomes more complicated when you start to factor in the emotional aspects.

As for the Singapore campus, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a clean, safe and orderly environment. The people there were very friendly and supportive and ready to help. It was just a very good experience both in terms of the country and the campus.